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Burt Bacharach: His Extraordinary Songs and Musicals

Ask any modern singer or songwriter for a list of their influences, and you're more than likely to see pop mastermind Burt Bacharach at the top of their list. Know best for his many hits that span the 1960s, '70s and '80s, Burt Bacharach's songbook is one of the best known in modern times.

Burt Bacharach was born on May 12, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri. From an early age, he showed interest in music. He studied the subject extensively at the Mannes School of Music, McGill University and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.

Bacharach's career began to blossom in 1957 when he joined forces with lyrical mastermind Hal David. A year later, their first big hit was recorded by Marty Robbins, entitled "The Story of My Life." It became a number one hit on U.S. country and UK charts. The success was followed up in early 1958 with Perry Como's hit, "Magic Moments." Como's song reached number four hit on American charts and number one in the UK.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David then found success writing songs for artists like Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick, The Drifters and Chuck Jackson in the early 1960s. Their popularity as a songwriting team snowballed as they continued to compose hit songs for many of the brightest talents of the time.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Burt Bacharach was writing songs for best artists around. Through the '60s, '70s and '80s, he was one of the most sought after songwriters in the world. His list of clients included The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, The Shirelles, The Carpenters, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert and Luther Vandross.

His success carried over into the 1990s and beyond into the new millennium. He worked with Elvis Costello on a Grammy award winning album entitled, "Painted From Memory" in 1998. He even collaborated with hip hop mogul Dr. Dre on his recent album release entitled, "At This Time."

Burt Bacharach also had success on Broadway with his musicals. In 1968, "Marlene Dietrich" and "Promises, Promises" made their way to the stage. In fact, the latter was nominated for a Tony award for best musical. More recently, a review entitled "The Look of Love" was performed on stage in 2003. That same year saw Bacharach's contribution to the original musical called "The Boy From Oz." Burt Bacharach was also a featured songwriter in Andre Deshield's production of Haarlem Nocturne in 1984.

Burt Bacharach's distinctive style, which often uses unusual chord progressions and syncopated rhythms to create a catchy hook, made him one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century. From Brian Wilson to Oasis to Faith No More, many contemporary acts cite Bacharach's songwriting as highly influential on their careers.


Fall Out Boy - A Brief Biography

Fall Out Boy is an American alternative rock group that burst on the scene in 2005 with their major label release "From Under the Cork Tree." Their follow up albums 'Infinity on High' (released in 2007) and "Foile A Duex" (released in 2008) have been popular with fans and critics alike.

Fall Out Boy (FOB) takes their name from the television show The Simpsons. In a similar fashion, many of the titles of Fall Out Boy songs reference pop culture. They've been one of the first bands to widely use websites, social networking and other Internet technologies to spread information about their music and connect with fans. The release of their fifth studio album was preceded by a viral marketing campaign spread across several websites.

Fall Out Boy's signature sound is an eclectic mix of styles. Wentz writes the majority of the lyrics for the songs while Stump handles the arrangement of the music. Stump has been tapped to help produce records and singles for many other bands and artists such as T.I, Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship, The Hush Sound, Lupe Fiasco The Roots.

Fall Out Boy members use personal blogs, You Tube and the social networking site Friendsor Enemies to stay connected with fans. Fall Out Boy pictures and videos are frequently posted to these sites keeping fans involved in the band and the music.

The band was started by bassist Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman in 2001 when both were just teenagers in Chicago. Patrick Stump, who originally auditioned to be the drummer, became the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. They were joined by a drummer and additional guitar player and the mini-LP "Fall Out Boy's Evening Out with Your Girlfriend" was released in 2003.

After the LP, two of the members left the band. Drummer Andrew Hurley joined Wentz, Trohman and Stump to create the current line-up. The band relied heavily on their punk rock roots, but combined the sound with pop and emo influences. Their first full length record 'Take This to Your Grave' was released in May 2003.

Their first major label release was in 2005 with "From Under the Cork Tree." The single "Sugar, We're Goin Down" shot up to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Fall Out Boy video for the song was honored with a 2005 MTV Video Music Award, which increased sales of the album. Fall Out Boy was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2006 Grammys.

"Infinity on High" was their major label follow up and was released in 2007. The album sold 260,000 copies in its first week and reached number one on the Billboard 200. The single "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" reached number two in the U.S. and the U.K. The musical style is this album distanced the band from their punk roots with its heavily pop influenced sound.

Although some long time fans rejected the new direction the band was taking, the album had widespread appeal. "Thanks Fr the Mmrs", "Carpel Tunnel of Love", "Take Over the Breaks Lawyer" and "I'm Like a Lawyer" were all major hits due to the accompanying Fall Out Boy Videos.


Akon - The Real Story

With his unique blend of West African musical influences, Southern beats and East Coast inflections along with a dazzling presence that attracts those who watch music videos by the singer, Akon has gone from an unknown alleged convict to a music star in just a few short years.

Born to Mor Thiam, a jazz percussionist, and his wife, in St. Louis, Akon was raised in Senegal until the age of seven. At that point, his father returned to the US and brought the family with him. Until he was 15, Akon spent time in both countries.

Despite Akon's insistence that he has a criminal past where he was involved in drug dealing, car theft and spent several years in prison (where he apparently discovered his musical talents), there is no evidence to support his claims. In fact, it would appear that Akon has a squeaky clean past, according to criminal and court records. However, the artist sticks to his story that he spent time in prison after moving to New Jersey with his family.

In 2004, his solo album debut, Trouble, was released. It prompted several singles, including the hit "Ghetto" which was released by his own record company, Konvict Music. A year later, he turned out the song "Lonely", which took him to the top five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list, as well as maxing out the charts in several countries, including the UK and Germany. The young singer was becoming a star.

In 2005, the first of several music videos was nominated for an award, "Locked Up", which drew people to download music videos by the relatively new music artist. That same year, his manager was shot and killed in New Jersey during an altercation.

Akon began to collaborate on albums and music videos of popular rappers and singers, including Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dog, Eminem and Young Jeezy. He also released his second album, Konvicted, in 2006, and it debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100, getting off to a great start.

Interesting Akon Trivia
His real name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, though this is usually shortened to Aliaune Badara Thiam or Aliaune Damala Thiam.

Akon is Muslim and because of this, he has never tasted alcohol or tried a cigarette. He is also rumored to have 3 wives, which is allowed by his religion, but the only thing we know for sure is that he admits to having children with three different women.

The singer is surrounded by mystery and he likes it that way. Even his birth date is unverified and in interviews, Akon has refused to clarify, preferring that no one know his true age. The most widely accepted year of birth is 1873, but he has also been said to have been born in 1981.

Akon is the owner of a diamond mine in Africa. Ask him about the infamous "blood diamonds" and he'll respond that there is no such thing and it was only a movie.

He also runs the Konfidence Foundation, an organization to help underpriveledged children in Africa.
The singer was the first solo artist ever to hold the first AND second spots on the Billboard Hot 100 list and he accomplished this feat not once, but twice.

Akon has made music videos with both Eminem and Gwen Stefani.

His music videos have been nominated 4 times for the MTV Video Music Awards, two of which were solos.

The young singer has taken his unique origins and natural born talent and turned them into something people are clamoring for. His music is already a huge success and his collaborations are taking Akon even higher.


Build a Music Library That's Personal and Portable

Let's face it, almost all of us at one time or another has thrown away $10 or $20 buying an album for the enjoyment of a single song. Thanks to music downloads, that just doesn't have to be the case anymore. This new, fast and quite portable technology has enabled total control over a music library for a whole lot less money.

Music downloads are taking over the industry for a number of reasons. The biggest reason, which has its own subset of smaller ones, is the fact this form of listening can be completely personalized.

Let's look at how this is the case. Music downloads enable:

* Single song downloads. This beats the heck out of plunking down the cash for a full album when only one or two songs is desired. Rather than spend that $20 to net two favorites, you can apply every dime towards tunes you love.

* Creation of play lists. Depending on the music download service and listening device you're using, the creation of play lists can be very simple. These are simply the songs that will be loaded to play at any given time. On a computer with music downloads, for example, you can have different play lists for different days of the week.

You can even download to portable devices entire play lists (depending on storage capacity) and change them out as you want without losing the purchase.

* Ultimate music management. The play lists themselves enable some major organization of music purchases. All your holiday music, for example, can be stored on one list while your jazz collection resides in another. If you're feeling particularly eclectic, you can even create a new list by mixing up the songs from different collections.

* No need to store tons of CD cases while creating an impressive library. Since most music download services enable the storing of buys within their systems, you don't have to backup to CD and store the physical disks to keep a great library going.

* Versatility. Since many download devices, such as computers and some MP3 players, enable the storage and play of multiple types of files, it's possible to have a machine that's ready to rock for any purpose.

From video games and music to movies and television shows, some players can handle them all and many music download services are making adjustments to accommodate. This means you can completely personalize your devices with not only your favorite songs, but also your favorite games, TV shows and even movies. Storage capacity of the device, of course, will come into play as will ability, but the fact is these options are out there and they're totally portable.

It used to be people would listen to the radio and wish they could take over for the deejay and create their favorite play list. Thanks to music download services and devices, there's no need to wish any longer. These advances in technology put music lovers in the driver's seat and that's precisely why they've become so popular. When it comes to tailoring to meet individual tastes, few things can compare.


Selecting Music for Healing and Wellness

Choosing the correct, or most appropriate music which is conductive for alternative healing therapies - and for overall wellness - is of the utmost importance. Music has been used for healing, or as an aid to healing for thousands of years. The Bible tells us that David played his harp to cure King Saul's depression. Egyptian records dating from over 2,600 years old point to music being used as cures for infertility and arthritis.

In fact, one of the most ancient techniques, now finding a revival in modern culture, is in ancient Greece where the Pythagoreans believed that music was a gift from the Gods, and reflected mathematical perfection. It was widely believed that diseases and afflictions, both mental and physical, were simply disorders that could be improved or even cured by the proper application of music.

When you do choose to use music for healing, it is thus extremely important that you select the most appropriate music for the particular problems you are treating. This isn't nearly as simple as it may appear, however. Allow me to cite you an example of the complexities in the correct selection of music.

Let us say that you are depressed in your life and about to select music to make you feel better. Your first instinct is going to be to listen to music that is also depressing, or has a depressive effect. However we know from experience that this only serves to make the listener more depressed or melancholy. On the other hand, if you were to play happy or upbeat music, you may also find yourself more depressed as your brain compares your current situation with the music you are hearing. And few of us are in the mood to listen to enthusiastic music of any kind while we are feeling down.

Therefore you must find a way to move around this apparent "Catch 22". One simply way of doing that is a progressive movement of mood from your current state to your desired state. So if you were in fact dealing with depression, you would then first listen to a recording that is the epitome of depression and sadness to you. Once listening to that, move up a step and listen next to another recording, this time of slightly lighter mood and tone. Keep improving the mood and base emotions of the music you are listening to while your mood falls in sync with the music.

Music that you use for healing should be geared towards this use. New Age Music, Classical Music, Meditation and Relaxation Music, music with nature sounds in the background, and other such compositions. You can also find music especially geared towards music healing, using modern versions of the Pythagorean music healing techniques, such as the music of Classical New Age artist Daniel Kobialka. The music should soothe and calm you, rejuvenate and refresh you, not cause excessive excitement or distractions.

The music you choose does not have to be boring to you either! The music you listen to should evoke emotion, and cause you to feel the music completely throughout your body. Respond to the music in whatever way is most natural for you. You may move your body with the music, use visualization techniques, sync your breathing with the music or any other method of expression.

While the critics of music healing state that there is no conclusive evidence that it works, science has proven the power of sounds again and again. For example, not only can sound affect emotions, it can also have a physical impact on our surroundings. Lithotripsy is the medical term for the removal of gallstones using sound where a special machine generates sound waves to shatter stones. You most likely have also seen in media the effect of an opera singer shattering a glass with the power of her voice alone. If music can be used to destroy, it can also be used to heal.

When using music in healing therapies, the word "harmony" is the most important goal to keep in mind. In both of the examples above of the impact of sound, we are speaking about "resonance", which is - simply put - the occurrence of one object or force "getting in tune with" another object. All matter is made up of molecules, which all have their own vibrational frequency, or rate of movement. If you remember your basic science, you'll note that molecules that vibrate at the highest speeds make up gases, molecules that vibrate moderately are liquids, and the slowest of course are solid matter. However all molecules are constantly attracting each other and in movement.

The idea of using music to heal is therefore the idea that we can project a harmonious sound at a person who is in "dis-harmony" (having an affliction or problem to be solved), and move them back into harmony, and thus heal the individual. It is a very realistic and feasible effect that continues to help and assist millions of people across the globe. Using music in healing should be considered a viable and useful alternative healing method.


Nickelback - The Story Behind the Band

These days, if you look up Nickelback online, you'll find plenty of places to download music videos and listen to the band. Their beginnings were less than auspicious, however. This Canadian band was started up by four musicians, Chad, Brandon and Mike Kroeger and Ryan Peake, in Alberta. Their first album was an extended play disc called Hesher in 1996. Later that same year, they released a full length album that basically flopped. The album, Curb, produced a single, "Fly", that never made it to any charts and was circulated only in the local area on radio stations.

Despite the disappointment of their first recordings, the men of Nickelback went on to record The State, their second album, just two years later. This time, they struck gold and were given a record contract with EMI and Roadrunner Records. Their second album was re-released as a EMI/Roadrunner production in 2000, four years after their first album flopped and this time it hit gold, literally, in both the United States and in Canada.

It wasn't until Silver Side Up, the third full length album for the band, that they finally hit the mainstream market and became popular with the general public. The single from that album, "How You Remind Me" hit the top of the charts across the board in the US and Canada and became the Billboard Hot 100 number one single of the year, a prestigious title to have. The second single from the album, "Too Bad", also did very well.

Over the next few years, the band had great luck, releasing two more albums. Their main issues were with their drummers, first Brandon was replaced by Michael Guindon, who was replaced by Ryan Vikedal, a friend of Ryan Peake (Nickelback's lead guitarist). Finally, in 2005, Vikedal was replaced by Daniel Adair who is still the drummer currently.

Interesting Nickelback Trivia
The band got its name from something Mike Kroeger used to say frequently when handing change to his customers while working at Starbucks,"Here's your nickel back."

While the lead singer, guitarist and bass player remain the same, the band has gone through at least four drummers. Ryan Vikedal, the drummer before current musician Daniel Adair, claims he was forced out of the band.

Chad Kroeger, lead singer and rhythme guitarist for the band, performed "Hero", the Spiderman theme song along with Josey Scott.

If you download music videos of the hit Nickelback song of "Someday", you can see the production crew walking around in the background of the video.

The song "Figured You Out" was placed on the list of Top 100 Worst Love Songs, compiled by VH1 . . . despite the fact that it's not even a love song, but only discusses the involvement of love.

Nickelback songs have been used in several big movies, including The Scorpion King ("Yanking My Heart Out") and Daredevil ("Learn the Hard Way").

Silver Side Up was an extremely popular album, but not necessarily in the expected countries. While it went five times platinum in the US, the album went double platinum in Australia of all places. Incidentally, their music video for "See You at the Show" was filmed in Australia. They are particularly popular with the Aussies, it seems . . . the album, The Long Road, hit triple platinum in the same country.

Nickelback has had its fair share of problems with finding a drummer to stick around and was off to a rough start at the beginning. Nowadays, though, their music videos and albums are more popular than ever and they have a worldwide audience . . . not bad for a bunch of Canucks!


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